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Fisa 32, Us 30, Mr. Coburn 29, Oklahoma 29, Ms. Mikulski 21, New York 21, Fema 19, Sandy 13, Maryland 12, Louisiana 9, Schumer 9, Tennessee 8, New Jersey 8, Oregon 8, Mr. Merkley 8, Mr. Schumer 8, Indiana 6, Ms. Landrieu 6, America 6, California 6,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    December 27, 2012
    5:00 - 8:00pm EST  

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fisa. whether this number is large or small, i believe we must enforce meaningful protections for circumstances when the government searches through its database of captured communications looking for information on individual american citizens. otherwise, by means of these so-called backdoor searches, the government may conduct significant warrantless surveillance of american persons. i believe this current practice is inconsistent with core fourth amendment privacy protections and needs to be reformed. during consideration of fisa in the judiciary committee, senator durbin and i introduced a bipartisan amendment to address this very problem. the language of our amendment is identical to that offered by senators wyden and udall during consideration of fisa by the select committee on intelligence. the amendment clarifies that section 702 does not permit the government to search its data base of fisa materials to identify communications of a
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particular united states person. in effect, it would require the government to obtain a warrant before performing such queries involving an american person's communications. the amendment is limited in scope. it excludes from the warrant requirement instances where the government has obtained an emergency authorization, circumstances when the life or physical safety of the american person targeted by the search is in danger and the search is for the purpose of assisting that same person. and instances where the person has consented to the search. moreover, the warrant requirement would apply only to deliberate searches for americans' communications and would not prevent the government from reviewing, analyzed or disseminating any american communications collected under fisa and discovered through other analysis. fisa requires the government obtain a warrant any time it seeks to conduct direct surveillance on a u.s. person.
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indirect surveillance of u.s. persons by means of backdoor searches should be no different. no one disputes that the government may have a legitimate need to search its fisa data base for information about a u.s. person, but there is no legitimate reason why the government ought not first obtain a warrant by articulating and justifying the need for its intrusion on the privacy of u.s. persons. our constitutional values demand nothing less. unfortunately, we won't be voting on such an amendment later today. so our reauthorization of fisa will include a grant of authority for the government to perform backdoor searches, seeking information on individual american citizens without a warrant. i believe such searches are inconsistent with fundamental fourth amendment principles. for this reason, i cannot support the fisa reauthorization, and i urge my colleagues to oppose the bill in
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its current form. i'd like next to speak about a few amendments that i think would make some improvements to this legislation nonetheless. i'd like, first, to speak on the merkley-lee amendment which would require declass if i of significant fisa court opinions. the fisa court is requested to see surveillance inside and outside the united states. given the sensitive nature of these requests it is necessarily a secret court, a court white house rulings, orders and other deliberations are and remain classified. yet, although much of the courts work must be kept confidential it must not operate without meaningful oversight. beyond the straightforward application of the law to specific and sometimes highly classified circumstances, fisa court rulings may include substantive interpretations of governing legal authorities. as is true in every court called
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on a construed statutory text, fisa applications are influential in determining the contours of the government' surveillance authorities. unlike specific collections which are properly classified in many instances, i believe that the fisa court's substantive legal interpretation of statutory authorities should be made public. a hallmark of the rule of law which is a bedrock principle upon which our nation is founded, mr. president, is that the requirements of law must be made publicly available, available for review, available for the scrutiny of the average american. the merkley-lee amendment establishes a cautious and reasonable process for declassification consistent with the rule of law. its procedures are limited in three key respects: first, the pathway for declassification
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applies only to the most important decisions that include significant instruction or interpretation of the law. second, declassification must proceed in a manner consistent with the protection of national security, intelligence sources and methods and other properly classified and sensitive information. third, the process contemplates instances where the attorney general determines classification is not possible in a manner that protects national security. in such cases the process requires only an unclassified summary opinion or a report on the opinions that happen to remain classified. this modest and bipartisan amendment will help ensure that we're governed by the rule of law, that government activities are made by applying legal standards known to the public and that we remain in john adams famous formulation a government of laws and not of men. i would like next to speak on
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the wyden amendment to require a report on the privacy impact of fisa surveillance. the fisa amendments act of 2008 gave the government broad authority to surveil phone calls and e-mails of people reasonably believed to be foreigners outside of the united states. despite the intent that this authority be directed at noncitizens who are located abroad at the moment the surveillance is collected, officials have acknowledged that communications by americans may be swept up in the government's collection of those same materials. i believe that it's critical for both congress and the public to have access to information about the impact of these fisa authorities on the privacy of individual americans. only with such knowledge can we reasonably assess whether existing privacy protections are sufficient or whether reforms might be needed. yet, senior intelligence officials have declined to
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provide in a public forum the necessary information to such discussion and such analysis. in particular, it's essential that we learn the extent to which americans communications are collected under fisa, whether this includes any wholly domestic communications and whether government officials subsequently searched through those communications and conducted warrantless searches of phone calls and e-mails related to specific american persons. this modest compromise and this modest commonsense amendment requires the director of national intelligence to provide this information and report back to congress regarding the privacy impact of the fisa amendments act. given the sensitive nature of this information, our amendment provides for necessary redactions to protect core national security interests that would be important to our country and help keep us safe. providing congress with answers to these critical questions
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should be a relatively uncontroversial exercise. it should be a no-brainer. only with such information can we do our job of ensuring a proper balance between intelligence efforts on the one hand and the protection of fundamental individual rights and liberties on the other hand. finally, mr. president, i'd like to speak on the paul amendment, the fourth amendment preservation and protection act. the fourth amendment protects the rights of the people to be secure in their persons, papers and facts against unreasonable searches and seizures. at its core the constitution protects our right to be free. from unwarranted government intrusion in our affairs absent probable cause which the government must set forth with specificity to a court in an application for a warrant. it is undisputed that absent exigent circumstances, consent
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or a warrant, the government may not intrude upon a person's home and search through his papers and personal effects. but we no longer keep our most sensitive information solely in the form of physical papers, physical documents and other tangible things. the explosion of data sharing and data storage has made our economy more responsive and more efficient, but it also creates the potential for government abuse. congress has a fundamental responsibility to protect the individual liberty of americans by ensuring that the constitution's core fourth amendment protections are not eroded by the operation of changed circumstances, by new techniques that are made possible, in some cases made necessary by new technology. but congress has failed to do this. some court rulings have likewise fallen short of protecting the full scope -- the full spirit of the fourth amendment as it applies to our world of complex
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data sharing. courts have attempted in good faith to determine whether individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in different kinds of information that they might share to third parties, sometimes online. but the result of many of these rulings is a varied and unpredictable legal landscape in which many don't know and can't figure out whether they can rely on the fourth amendment to protect sensitive information that they routinely share with others for a limited business purpose. congress needs to act to preserve the fourth amendment's protections as they apply to everyday uses including routine use of the internet, use of credit cards, libraries and banks. absent such protections, individuals may in time grow weary of sharing information with third parties. i'm cognizant that this area of the law is complex. it's full of changes and full of instances in which we have to undertake a very delicate
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balancing act. nevertheless, much work remains to be done to ensure that the fourth amendment protections are here and that they are real and that they benefit americans and that they do so in a way that doesn't interfere with legitimate law enforcement and national security activities. we must not shy away from the task simply because it is hard. it is daunting, but it is possible and it is necessary. congress must act to preserve americans' constitutional right to be secure in their persons, their papers and effects and against unreasonable searches and seizures. thank you very much, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: will the senator suspend his request? the senator from montana. mr. tester: mr. president, thank you. i want to visit about the fisa amendments act, and i want to thank senator wyden for his leadership on this issue and for
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offering an amendment to this act that i have cosponsored, and i'll speak on it in just a minute. on our vote tomorrow, i will say that i will reluctantly -- i reluctantly plan to oppose the vote on the fisa amendment's bill tomorrow when we get to final passage. there are many reasons for that. i am not naive. i do understand there are people out there who want to do harmful things to our nation. i very much appreciate the folks in the intelligence community who do difficult behind-the-scenes work that keeps us all safe. but at the same time i believe that our civil liberties and our right to privacy need to be protected, and i do not believe that they're sufficiently protected under the current law. and so, simply extending current law for five more years is irresponsible, and it's not a rephrebg shun of our -- reflection of our values. there are few ways this bill falls short and i'm especially concerned about the practice of reverse targeting.
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the deputy majority leader talked about it about an hour ago. the intelligence community does not need a warrant to conduct surveillance on someone located overseas, and i think we can all agree there is no problem there. the problem comes when the intelligence committee conducts surveillance on someone overseas where the real purpose is to gain information about someone right here in america. that can happen without a warrant, and we should not let that happen without a warrant. our national security is not threatened if we require this information to be tagged and sequestered and subject to judicial review. it would merely ensure that the information intercepted overseas in the form of communications to or from an american citizen would have to be overseen by the courts. current law is supposed to prohibit this practice, but there really is no way to enforce the prohibition. that leaves the door open for abuse, and that is simply unacceptable. unfortunately, neither senator
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wyden nor i are able to offer our amendments that would address this hole in our privacy rights. we can do better. and we can also do better when it comes to transparency. the simplest amendment that the senate can approve today is the one that i am proud to cosponsor. it is the wyden amendment to require the director of national intelligence to report to congress on the impact of fisa amendments on the privacy of american citizens. the commonsense amendment. the report could be classified but would no longer allow the intelligence community to ignore requests for information from congress. why in the world do we not require the intelligence community to be accountable to us for its actions? it's our responsibility in congress to hold the entire executive branch accountable. if we do not ask these questions, we're simply not doing our job. and that's true whether it's president obama or president bush or some other president. i hope we can adopt the wyden
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amendment to improve the reporting requirements of the fisa act. i urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 1, for the purpose of calling up and debating the coats amendment. that following the remarks of senator coats, senator alexander be recognized, that the senate resume consideration of the fisa bill h.r. 5949 after that and all that provisions -- and that all provisions of the previous orders remain in effect. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report. mr. coats: i'd like to call -- the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 1, an act making appropriations for the department of defense and other departments and agencies of the
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government for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2011, and for other purposes. mr. coats: mr. president, i would like to call up amendment 3391. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from indiana, mr. coats, proposes amendment numbered 3391. mr. coats: mr. president, i'm cognizant of the fact that we will have a series of votes beginning in just 15 minutes, and so even though the unanimous consent request on this amendment is for 30 minutes equally divided, i'm going to try to judiciously use this time between myself and senator alexander to explain why we're offering this amendment and hopefully our colleagues will be persuaded to support us when we vet on this probably tomorrow. we are all, of course, sensitive to the pain and damage inflicted by mother nature on the northeast. in fact, some of the northeast is getting some more of that pain with the storm up there
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today. no state or region in our country should be left to fend for itself after a storm as devastating as hurricane sandy. and it's important to understand -- i think that many things have whopped the ability of the states and local communities to deal with some of the effects of this. that is why the sandy emergency supplemental is before us attached to h.r. 1 and why we will be voting on that, i assume, tomorrow. there are two versions before us. one is the senate democrats emergency supplemental proposal. that totals $60.4 billion. it includes nearly $13 billion in mitigation funding. now, that goes for the next storm, not this storm. $3.46 billion for army corps of engineers, $500 million of which are projects from previous
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disasters, $3 billion to rare or replace federal assets that do not fall in the category of emergency need, $56 million for tsunami cleanup on the west coast, which, of course, does not relate to sandy, and a lot of new authorizing language for reform of disaster relief programs which i would support through the regular process. but without having gone through the authorizing committee, i don't think that's a good idea. our proposed alternative provides $23.8 billion in funding for the next three months. we are not saying that this is the be-all and end-all of what congress will ultimately need to fund to meet the needs of those impacted by sandy. we are simply saying that before rushing to a number, which has not been fully scrubbed, fully looked at, with plans haven't
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been fully developed yet, and that's understandable, we think the most important thing we can do is to provide emergency funding for those in immediate need over the next three months. we have carefully worked with fema, director fugate, we have worked with h.u.d., we have worked with the appropriations committee to identify those specific needs that get to the emergency situations under which this bill is titled. it provides funding for states to allow them to begin to rebuild but also leaves us time to review what additional funds might be needed. so rather than throwing out a big number and simply saying let's see what comes in under that number, let's look at the most immediate needs that have to be funded now and provide a sufficient amount of funds in order to do that. in fact, the amount that we're providing would extend in terms of outlays far beyond march 27,
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but we want those mayors, we want those governors to be able to begin the planning process of looking how they go -- would go forward, but we also want in respect to our careful need to carefully look at how we extend taxpayer dollars. we want to allow this three-month period of time for which the relevant committees here in the united states senate and the house of representatives can look at these plans, can document the request, can examine the priorities that might be needed and then put a sensible plan in place that hopefully will be an efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars. and therefore we have struck from the democrat proposal all moneys that would go to mitigation funding, not saying that mitigation funding isn't necessary but simply saying it doesn't meet the emergency need that this first three months'
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proposal addresses. this will give states time to begin to rebuild but also allow us time to review what additional funding -- funds are needed for that rebuilding. we don't allow authorizing language because we don't believe in authorizing something on an emergency appropriations bill that ought to go through the authorizing committees. and we focus specifically on sandy-related needs. there are a number of other needs as i have just addressed that are perhaps legitimate that ought to come through the regular process. with that, mr. president, let me turn to my colleague from tennessee who has been working with me on this. i will say that our appropriation committee republican staff has gone through this very, very carefully and tried to identify how we can get money from the
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essential needs to those people, to those communities that need them now and how we can be responsible in terms of spending the taxpayer dollars by having a period of time in which we can look at the plans for the future and see where additional funds might be needed. with that, i yield to my colleague from tennessee. mr. alexander: i thank the senator from indiana. mr. president? thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thanks very much. mr. president, i'm here to join the senator from indiana, and i think i can presumptively speak for everybody here in this -- in this body. we want to help the people in new york and new jersey and other northeastern states who were hurt by sandy. we have had some pretty tough disasters in tennessee as well. we had a thousand-year flood a couple years ago -- not 100-year but a thousand year. we knew the federal government wasn't going to make us whole. we had billions of dollars of
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damage, 52 counties hurt, but we knew the federal government could help and it did and it did swiftly, and that's what we want to do in this case. with all the talk about the money we're about to appropriate, i think it's important to remind those who live in new york and new jersey and connecticut what's already being done with money we have already appropriated. for example, there are 5,460 fema personnel in those states. there are 507,000 citizens of those states who have already filed individual assistance applications. this is when your home's gone and you need money for rent or you need money to rebuild. those applications are in. already $1.09 billion has been paid to those individuals. there are 25 disaster recovery centers in new york, three in connecticut, $150 million in disaster loans for the small business administration have already been approved. more than 360,000 applications
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have been sent in. so, mr. president, the important thing to know is that help for victims of hurricane sandy doesn't depend on what we're about to do here tonight. we already have money in the bank. we already have fema people on the ground. there is already help. in my experience, in our tennessee disasters, that help comes in a matter of days in most cases. so what are we about to do here? as senator coats said -- and i want to complait him for making a very sensible approach to this -- we're about to say here is $24 billion more for the accounts that are already helping people in the area hurt by sandy. for example, over $5 billion for the disaster relief fund. that's just to make sure there is enough money to fund those half billion requests that are already in. $9.7 billion for flood insurance. if you have got flood insurance, this is the federal government
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paying its claim. $3.4 billion to repair roads and bridges. there is already money for roads and bridges, already work being done. this is more money between now and march. $2 billion for community development block grants. we found in tennessee that's especially flexible money, very helpful. that's $2 billion more between now and march, $500 million for the small business administration. now, it does not include -- the proposal that we're offering, it doesn't include items that are not related to hurricane sandy. this is supposed to be about hurricane sandy. it doesn't make changes. we don't go in this emergency appropriations bill for the next three months and say what we need to do is make wholesale changes in the law, make things permanent that are temporary, streamline regulations. they all may be good things to do but we have a process for major legislative changes. we don't include $13 billion in unspecified future projects. now, they may be good projects,
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but if they are we have a process to consider those projects. the distinguished senator from california and i are the ranking members of the subcommittee that does that. we expect to do that this year. so we're filling up the accounts that are already being used to help many, many people. and finally, if i may say something about process, which i think would be more interesting to the senators than the people of new york and new jersey, but it's important to know that this bill came to the floor in record time. no one objected to its coming to the floor. it was virtually unanimous before we even started voting on amendments that we invoke cloture. and we'll have a final vote of 51 votes, so the bill in some form will pass. and in return for that, those of us on the minority side, so far as i know, got the amendments that we wanted. but i simply want to say to my colleagues that it's still far from a perfect process in our effort to continue to improve the way the senate works. the bill should have gone to
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committee to begin with. it did not. it could have been amended there. when it came to the floor on monday and we said come right on, no one objects to that, we should have started voting. we could have voted for three days on this bill, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, instead of running around trying to see who had amendments. let's just put them up and vote on them. and then we should have had the cloture vote, which as i said was -- was done with only, i think, one dissenting objection. so the process has been better but not as good as it should be for this senate. but, mr. president, senator coats' substitute is the right proposal. it's $24 billion more now for the accounts that are already being used to help. and the last thing i would say is this -- when there is an emergency, congress has always acted. we don't always do everything in the first week or second or third week because we already have money in the bank for the needs, but in katrina, for example, there were nine
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different supplemental appropriations bills over time. the next wave of appropriations requests can come to us, we will go to work on them in a few weeks. we could have the work done in the committee, for example, that senator feinstein and i work on within a few weeks after that, and the majority leader will bring the bills to the floor this year if not last year, we can vote on them and have the second round of funding. so i thank senator coats from indiana for his hard work on this. i fully support it. i want the people of new jersey and new york to know we want to help them, we are helping them and will continue to be interested in the things that need to be done. it won't make them whole but it will help them get on their feet just as we have in tennessee and just as we have in other states across the country after large disasters. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: may i inquire as to how much time is still available for the call -- before the call of the vote on the fisa legislation? the presiding officer: approximately two minutes.
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mr. coats: well, i'd like to use those two minutes, if i could, just to sum up. i want to thank the senator from tennessee for his support throughout this whole process. he has been instrumental in helping us work through this to find what we believe is a reasonable way to move forward and provide that immediate emergency help that is so badly needed up in the northeast. let me just give one example of how we came to these numbers. we do provide through the transportation, housing and urban development appropriations $32 million for repairs of amtrak's infrastructure, dewatering of tunnels, electrical systems, overhead wires. these are immediate needs and we want to provide money for that. funding for highway emergency relief, directly related to sandy, we fund for that. we fund for public transportation infrastructure. immediate needs between now and march. again, we're not saying that there might not be needed more funding after this, but we will at least have had the opportunity to vet that and look
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to ensure that the money is correctly spent. what we didn't do under that appropriation was $30 million of damages that come under the f.a.a. existing budget, funding for highway projects not related to sandy that are in the democrat bill and mitigation projects unrelated to sandy. again, we're not against mitigation but we're saying let's focus on sandy, get the emergency help to those who need it now, get it there in an ample amount of time and money for them, and then let's take up through the regular process here how we carefully examine how we spend the taxpayers' money, providing those needed funds for the real emergency, but not using this as a bill to lard up with all kinds of excessive spending that isn't needed for this particular emergency. with that, mr. president, i yield back the time.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 5949. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 3437 offered by the senator from vermont, mr. leahy. mr. leahy: mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, this is a matter i care a great deal about. we're rushing to rub irstamp a house bill that will extend the fisa amendments act for another five years. my amendment would allow the authorities to continue but it would give a lot better and more timely oversight. we passed this, it was not a
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last-minute thing. we passed this out in july of the senate judiciary committee. we did it quickly so that we would not be in this last-minute matter. this has no operational impact on the intelligence community, but it does ensure the strongest of oversight. i hope that -- i hope senators will support it and i yield the floor. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: i rise to oppose this amendment and indicate the administration opposes the amendment. we have just four days to reauthorize this critical intelligence tool before it expires. that's the reason for having the house bill before us today. the house bill is a clean bill. it extends the program to 2017, when it would sunset and be -- and would meet another -- need
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another reauthorization. i believe we must pass this bill now. i believe that 2017 is the appropriate date. it gets the job done. i'm very worried if we do anything else, if we pass any one of these amendments, we will jeopardize the continuation of what is a vital intelligence tool. so regretfully, i oppose the leahy amendment. the presiding officer: the question is on the leahy amendment. is there a sufficient second? appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators who wish to change their votes or to vote? hearing none, the ayes are 38, the nays are 52. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 3435, offered by the senator from oregon, mr. merkley. mr. reid: mr. president? mr. president? could we have order. the presiding officer: yes. order, please. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: and, please. mr. reid: mr. president, we're going to have two more votes tonight. they will both be ten minutes in duration, in addition to the debate time that's already been established. then we're going to move in a very direct way to complete as much of the debate time on the amendments on the supplemental. it's extremely important we get this debate completed tonight so we can start voting in the morning. we have already set up, we're
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going to have some votes in the morning. we're going to come in probably about 9:30 and start voting. we have a lot to do. it would really be good if people who have amendments on the supplemental, use your debate time tonight. we're going to have no more votes tonight but tomorrow there's going to be limited amount of debate time. so senators -- senator mikulski will be here tonight. senator schumer will be here tonight. senator menendez will be here tonight to help move this, in in addition to, of course, the manager of the bill on the other side. so we hope that people will work hard to get the debate out of the way tonight so tomorrow we can vote. we have a lot of votes tomorrow. we -- i'm led to believe that there are a amendments the managers of this legislation will pass either by voice or in some other quick fashion. ms. mikulski: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: following up on
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leader reid's comments, to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, if you have these amendments, senator schumer and i would like to know that you stay here this evening to offer and debate them as you were accorded under the unanimous consent agreement. if you come up and tell senator schumer and i now, we can get an order and a sequencing and tell you when we can call you up. we'd like very -- so instead of everybody standing around, we would actually get a regular order, you would know when your amendment's coming up, in what order you're coming up so that you could plan your evening. and so please see senator schumer and i and then we'll work with you to accomplish this. mr. president, i yield the flo floor. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. will there be order, please.
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mr. merkley: mr. president, is it time to speak to amendment 3435? the presiding officer: yes. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i rise in support of the merkley-lee amendment. i thank him for being lead cosponsor. the presiding officer: please take your conversations out of the chamber. please. mr. merkley: colleagues, this is all about supporting the fourth amendment and opposing secret law. as we all know in this nation, law consists of both the plain language of the court interpretations of what that plain language means. in the case of the fisa rulings, the public never finds out the second half and, therefore, doesn't really know when information can be collected, if you will, that is relevant to an investigation. no one ever knows what that means. the public should be able to know and should be able to -- to weigh in. this amendment is constructed so it protects national security, says this will only happen in cases where it's compatible with national security to release the fisa findings. and, second, it can do summaries instead and if summaries are still causing a national security problem, a schedule is
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sufficient of how the administration is reviewing these. balances national security but fights for the fourth amendment. i urge you to support it. the presiding officer: the senator from california. i would like order, please. the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, the vice chairman of the committee and i oppose this amendment, as does the administration. again, we have only four days to reauthorize this intelligence tool before it expires. and sending this legislation to the president without amendment is the only sure way to do it. the director of national intelligence is engaged in an ongoing process to declassify significant fisa court opinions where it is possible to do so. i have agreed to work with senator merkley to get summaries of fisa court decisions that can be made public. in sum, the intelligence community strives to be as
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transparent as possible with the public, but legislation that would force its hand and potentially risk the exposure of classified information is both unnecessary and unwise. i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. the presiding officer: all time has expired. the question is on the merkley amendment. a senator: ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are
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there any senators wishing to change his or her vote? hearing none, on this vote the yeas are 37. the nays are 54. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to. under the previous order, there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 3436 offered by the senator from kentucky, mr. paul. mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i rise today to support the fourth amendment protection act. the fourth amendment guarantees that people should be secure in their persons, houses and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures. somewhere along the way, though, we became lazy and haphazard in
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our vigilance. we allowed congress and the courts to diminish our fourth quarter amendment protection. particularly when are papers were held by third parties. i think most americans would be shocked to know that the fourth amendment does not protect your records if they're banking, internet or visa records. a warrant is required to read your sphaeul mail and to -- your snail mail and tap your phone but no warrant is required to look at your e-mail, text or your internet searches. they can be read without a warrant. why is a phone call more deserving of privacy protection than an e-mail? this amendment would restore the fourth amendment protections to third-party records, and i recommend a "yes" vote. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: i oppose this amendment, as does the vice chairman, as does the administration. this amendment is not germane to fisa. it has not been reviewed by the judiciary committee which would have jurisdiction over this
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matter. it seeks to reverse 30 years of supreme court precedent interpreting the fourth amendment. according to the administration, and i quote the d.n.i., the amendment would severely limit the effectiveness of law enforcement authorities at all levels of government and will effectively repeal the fisa amendment to act. i urge a "no" vote. the presiding officer: the question is on the paul amendment. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any other senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? seeing none, on this vote, the yeas are 12, the nays are 79. under the premiered requiring 60 -- previous order requiring 60 votes for the dochtion of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland.
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ms. mikulski: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate now resume consideration of h.r. 1, the legislative vehicle for the sandy -- hurricane sandy supplemental. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection. ms. mikulski: the clerk will report? officer stir ththe presiding ofr the bill has been reported. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. the chamber will come to order. please carry your conversations outside the chamber. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i'd like to give a sense of the order of amendments so senators may plan their time. so if we could ask for order. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. ms. mikulski: we're now back on the supplemental bill, and we have great cooperation in getting the pending amendments and debate done this evening, so that we could actually start
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voting this morning. so that senators can have an understanding of how we'll start our work this evening, i want to lay out a bit of the schedule. this is not a unanimous consent request. it's kind of an outline. our intention is to have the following amendments called up after i yield the floor. senator cardin to be recognized to call up his amendment 3393, senator tester to be recognized for two minutes on amendment 3350, senator landrieu up to two minutes on amendment 3415, senator coburn to be recognized for 30 amendments for six amendments, 3368, 3369, 3370, 331, 3382, and 3383. following that, senator merkley to be recognized up to nines to call up his amendment. and then i have a few that i will offer, if senators are
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pending. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i would call up the cardin amendment that was made in order, 3393. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from maryland, senator cardin, proposes amendment number 3393. mr. cardin: mr. president, this amendment is totally noncontroversial. in the bill the increase of the surety bond limits for small businesses from $2 million to $5 million. it was an amendment i worked with with senator landrieu on the small business committee. it was included in the recovery act. it expired and has been very, very successful. it's generate add lot more contracts thank anticipated, making the limit permanent has no cost. this amendment would strike the provisions from this bill since it's already been included in the national defense authorization act, which has passed this body at $6.5 million
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made permanent. so there's no need to include this provision in the supplemental appropriations bill. i know of no controversy in this amendment. we don't need any debate time. the presiding officer: the senate is not in order. please carry your conversations into the cloakroom. mr. cardin: i'm hopeful we'll just clear this for a voice vote tomorrow. i want to thank senator landrieu for her work, senator snowe on the small business committee, and thank senator mikulski for the courtesy. a senator: mr. president? mr. tester: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. ms. mikulski: before the senator from montana speaks, i would -- why don't we voice vote it now, offer it. mr. cardin: i'm prepared for the vote. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: if ness no further debate on the amendment, all those in favor say aye.
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ms. mikulski: would the chair withhold? there seems to be -- mr. president, could -- if you got order, i think it would be helpful for us -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. ms. mikulski: the senator from maryland may proceed. card coast guard mr. cardin: i r debate. i'm prepared to let the question go on voice vote. the presiding officer: is there any further debate on the amendment? mr. coburn: inquiry of the chair, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator oklahoma. mr. coburn: it was my understanding that we were going to have ordered votes tomorrow rather than evenin this evening. i would ask through the chair the chairman of the committee that -- the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: replying to the gentleman from oklahoma's request, for those amendments for which we know we've cleared
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on both sides of the aisle that we can do by voice votes or by consent we're going to get those done this evening. does the senator have an objection to that? mr. coburn: well, i would on this particular -- i think we ought to have a recorded vote on this. that would be my request. ms. mikulski: so, senator cardin's amendment 3393 will be voted on tomorrow. mr. tester: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i ask consent to call up my amendment. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. tester proposes amendment numbered 3350. mr. tester: mr. president, senator udall of colorado and i will offer this amendment to provide the forest service with sufficient resources to meet the demands of wildfires fighting this fiscal year.
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our amendment to the sandy supplemental would close the gap between the budget request and the actual expected need for wildfire management this year. over the last 15 years the cost of wildfire is up expression has increased five fold. the reason we've filed fires suppression increasing by fivefold is because of frequencies and severity of fires both increased. the forest service instead has had to borrow money set aside for nonfire purposes, cutting into aimportant programs such as timber production, watershed restoration. borrowing against other accounts is occasionally unavoidable but is generally bad policy. we have a chance to avoid this situation by adopting my amendment. number 3350. over 1 million acres burned in montana alone, over 9 million acres burned across the country.
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three states had major emergency as doesster declarations due to fire. we cannot afford to get cut unprepared. nearly one-fifth of the west remains in extreme drought and over 60% of the high plains remain in extreme or exceptional drought. let's be responsible. i would urge a "yes" vote on this amendment tomorrow. with that, i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i rise in support of amendment 3350. proposed by senator tester. these funds are needed because the agency predicts it will spend more to fight these fires in fiscal year 2013, causing severe hardship on the agency, as it withdraws. i ask unanimous consent my full statement be in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: mr. president, i rise to discuss amendment 3415. it's my understanding that there's no opposition to this amendment. we may be able to voice vote it tonight.
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but let me take a minute to explain it. understand -- this is really a technical correction to an underlying provision that is already in the bill that we'll be voting for. in the current law, there is a perverse incentive for local governments, when they are recovering, to hire outside contractors as opposed to maybe working with the workers that are already on the payroll -- firefighters and police officers. it was not intended to be that way. but because fema only reimburses for contractors and not for the local police or firefighters under certain circumstances, we believe and fema believes it is actually spending more moafnlt so the essence of this amendment is to save money, be neutral in the law so that the local officials can make the best decisions wherever they want to hire, either contractors if it makes sense or their own people
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if it makes sense, so the recovery can go more efficiently and hopefully save money. fema supports it, the firefighters support it and it's really technical in nature, which is why i ask the chairwoman tonight if we could voice vote t i don't think there's any opposition. ms. mikulski: i say to the gentlelady, we've been advised that we do not think we'll be voice voting amendments tonight. but i want to just comment that we support the landrieu 3415 amendment, which clarifies the intent of section 609(e) of the pending amendment to provide fema reimbursements for the first responders. this amendment clarifies the intent that first responders can be reimbursed for wages during a disaster response, but it does not change the conditions of reimbursement that already -- that already aid in an affected
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disaster response. we do want to reinforce that the national association of both firefighters and their fire chiefs support this amendment. at such time when a vote is taken, i will urge an aye. ms. landrieu: i would like to technically calm the amendment, if i chasm the staff reminded me that i didn't do that, 3415, and submit for the record two letters from the international association of fire chiefs and the international association of firefighters. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: mic ms. landrieu proposes amendment numbered 3415. the presiding officer: without objection, the items will be placed in the record.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: you'd ask through the chair if the chairman of the appropriations committee would like me to begin calling up amendments? ms. mikulski: yes, and i really wish to thank the senator from oklahoma for being willing to debate his amendments this evening. i know he has a pressing engagement, and he may proceed in whatever manner he so chooses. mr. coburn: i thank the chairwoman. mr. president, a little perspective before i offer these amendmentsment we have buffs a $60 billion-plus bill and there is no question an there's great
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need in response to the devastation that occurred with san day. but one thing the american people need to know is that as this bill goes through the senate, this bill isn't going to be paid for, there's no amendment that has been a proved -- approved that will allow offsets for this women of so as we clear this bill through the senate, the $60-some billion that we're going to clear, we're actually going to borrow that money. and that's indisputable. i've spent the last eight years outlining the waste, the duplication, and the fraud in the federal government. those amendments are not made in order that would offset and actually par to this by eliminating programs of the federal government that don't actually do mig to actually better the lives of americans. i'm very appreciative of the opportunity to offer these amendments. i would also note that we could have done these last week, had we had an open and moving
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amendment process. we wouldn't be here today working on san dix we would have finished it last week. but we chose not to do that. i would ask that amendment 3369 be called up. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn, proposes an amendment numbered 3369. it strike section -- mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. burn this imr. coburn: this is y straightforward amendment and this is not to be construed as an amendment against the appropriators, but rather an amendment for transparency. what the underlying bill states is that three days before any grants are made under this process, that the appropriations committee will be notified. not the whole congress, not the american people, but the appropriations committee.
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and the reason for that is so that the members of the appropriations committee can then put out the information to the constituencies who are going to benefit from the grants that come through this. well, actually the american people need to know the grants that are going to be granted through this process, the money that's going to be spent, and so all this amendment does is change it to where the american people get notified of the grants that are going to be placed as a result of this bill. this is about good government. this is about transparency. this is about letting all the americans who are actually going to pay for these grants know what's going on, when it's going on, and how it's going on, whose going to get the money, and how much money they're going to get. it's really straightforward, very simple, and it just says, let everybody know. not a select group of members or senators or house members, but everybody in this country who is
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footing the bill ought to know where this money is going to be spent. they ought know at the time anybody else knows. and so it's just a transparency amendment so that we all know where the money is spent and ane know it at the time. at the same time. i ask unanimous consent that that amendment be set aside and amendment 3371 be set up. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: be called up. officer the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. coburn for himself and mr. mccain proposes an amendment numbered 3371. mr. coburn: thank you. this is another good-government amendment. one of the things that's happened since fema was set up is that we have what has occurred -- what has occurred has created a disparity between the states, and let me outline. in the last six yearstest.
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-- in the last six years, the states with the most disasters, most of you would not realize, is observing oafnlgt we'vis okl. we've had 25 certificate tied cs in oklahoma. now, how did that happen? it happened because the calculated damage -- certified calculated damage has not been updated on a regular basis. so what's the effect of that? the effect of that is a state like new york or california or texas can have exactly the same disaster as oklahoma but it won't be declared a disaster because oklahoma has less than 4 million people but we have "x" amount of dollars, but because we have such a smaller population, we qualify for disaster declaration, whereas if the same thing happened in any of those three larger population states, you wouldn't qualify. so this actually is an amendment that will not be beneficial to my state but it's beneficial to
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us as american citizens to create equality in how we describe and how we grant disaster declarations. so all i'm doing is saying between now and 2016, fema has to update. it won't have any application to what we're doing today but it's a good-government amendment so that we will actually have uniform process throughout the country so that disaster declarations are appropriately granted to states that appropriately need the federal government help. and our -- remember, our definition on this is when we've overwhelmed local resources, that's the key. then we use a per capita damage assessment to grant the declaration of emergency. so what i'm trying to do is to create some clarity and also equality among the states so that everybody's treated equal. and right now they're not. and, quite frankly, my state is
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much advantaged to the detriment of the larger states because of our lower population with the same amount of damage. so i would ask the concurrence on that amendment, and i ask that the next amendment, 3382, be called up. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn, proposes an amendment numbered 3382. mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: this is an amendment that some people don't like and i'll grant you that, but i have some specific examples that are going on in new jersey right now on why this amendment is needed. we have multiple contracts that were available that could have been utilized in new jersey for debris removal. the company that got the contract actually is going to charge in excess of 20% more to
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the federal government for doing the same thing that another competitive bid would have done. so we're going to spend at least 20% more on the contract for debris removal in new jersey than what we needed to. and that's because competitive bidding was not a requirement of federal funds. some history. during katrina, here's what we know. $11 billion of u.s. taxpayer money was either defrauded or wasted. let me say that again. $11 billion. and let me give you the prime example of that. the corps of engineers was paid $62 per cubic yard to manage debris removal in katrina. through five layers of contracting, the people who actually did the debris removal
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in katrina were paid $9 a cubic yard. so we paid six times what it actually cost to get the debris removal done because we did not have competitive bidding and we had multiple layers coming from the corps of engineers to national contractors to regional contractors to local contractors to the actual guy with a backhoe, with a -- with a scoop and a dump truck. so we paid five to six times what it should have cost to actually get the debris removal taken care of. the same thing is going on in new jersey right now. right now, so requiring competitive bidding, can there be exceptions to it? yes. are there times when you can't do that? yes. but as a general rule, the american -- especially since we're borrowing this money, we
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ought to be the best stewards of it that we can, that we can be. and you wil all this says is weo require competitive bidding on these type contracts to make sure we get value. now, why did new jersey choose the more expensive contractor? because the federal government's paying for all of it. this was a contract that was set and had been executed once in connecticut, and because the federal government's paying for it, then there's less decision making about prudence and efficiency and effectiveness because there's not state money paying for it. so what has happened is, what was well-connected, what was well-heeled got the contract and the one that would have cost considerably less didn't get the contract. and i'd be happy to demonstrate for any of my colleagues showing them the difference between these two contracts on debris removal in new jersey.
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so the same thing that happened, we didn't -- that happened in katrina, we're not learning fr from. i agree that the debris needs to be picked up. we need to do it expeditiously. and we had great opportunities to do that with both contractors except we're going to pay a lot more because we choose -- chose to go away, which greases the sleds for those that were well-connected. i ask unanimous consent that that amendment be set aside and amendment 3383 be called up. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn, proposes an amendment numbered 3383. mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: this amendment attacks one of the features of this bill which i think steals from the authorizing committees the authority that they need to have on authorizing projects.
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let me quote the language in the bill. "provided further that any project that is understudy by the corps of engineers -- under study by the corps of engineers for reducing flooding and storm damage risks in the future and that the corps studies demonstrate will cost-effectively reduce those risks is hereby authorized." we've just with one sentence taken away total capability of the authorizing committee to hold the corps accountable. and all i'm saying is we at least ought to have authorizers say whether or not this is a priority. doesn't mean they need to stop it but they ought to at least be informed, and the authorization of that ought to go through a committee. in this bill, 64% of the money isn't going to even be started to be spent for two years from now. so there's plenty of time for us to create the authorization
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process rather than to deem the corps of engineers their own order and desire in terms of projects that they wish to do. it's about good government. it's about good input. it's about good oversight. and rather than allow the corps just to deem something authorized without the input of the appropriate committee of this senate i think is inherently wrong and potentially very wasteful. i'd ask unanimous consent that that amendment be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: and ask unanimous consent that amendment be -- 3368 be called up. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn, proposes an amendment numbered 3368. in title 4 -- mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: the sandy supplemental appropriation bill provides that the united states
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army corps of engineers $3.5 billion in funding for new construction projects. of that, $3 million from this account is directed towards future mitigation projects, future flood risks for areas associated with large-scale flood and storm events in areas along the atlantic coast within the boundaries of the north atlantic division of the corps that was affected by hurricane sandy. the legislation also increases the federal cost share for these projects that are funded with this appropriation and it changes it from 65% to 90%. the purpose of this amendment is to bring that back to 65%. and it's not about being a miser. it's not about wanting to save money. it's about prudence. it's about sound judgments. it's about common sense. what do we know from the 1988 stafford act? here's what we know.
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what we know is when we changed the cost share to an appropriate level so that we don't get things done on the federal government's taxpayer dime without significant participation of local input, what the studies show is that during that one-year period, the federal government saved $3 billion because projects didn't get funded that weren't priorities because of the 65% federal contribution and 35% cost share. so what this does is reintroduce the 65% federal payment and 35% cost share to do that. and, again, most of these projects aren't going to start until 2015. so priorities are important. so we're borrowing $60 billion -- and this is just the first bill, i'm told, and
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i'm sure we're going to have to spend money. but should we not be more prudent with how we spend dollars that are going to be borrowed against our children's future? all this says is revert it back to what it's done. the second point i would make with this is this is the first time in recent history where we've said the people of louisiana have a 65% cost share with the federal government, the people of texas, the people of mississippi, the people of alabama. and all of a sudden now we're going to say, no, that doesn't apply to the people in the northeast. so it's unfair to the other areas that have major catastrophe as that now all of a sudden in time of extremists in terms of our debt and deficit, that we're going to all of a sudden change that? and why are we changing that? especially since most of this money isn't going to be spent, isn't even going to be initialized for at least two
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years. i'd ask unanimous consent that that amendment be set aside and amendment 3370 be called up. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn, for himself and mr. mccain, proposes an amendment numbered 3370, as modified. mr. coburn: i'd ask unanimous consent the amendment be considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: and per the request of senator schumer, i put a division in this amendment so we would have two votes on it separating out the fisheries because he thought that was important. i was glad to accommodate his needs. the main -- mr. schumer: will the gentleman yield? mr. coburn: i would be happy to. mr. schumer: i just want to thank him, he was gracious. there are two separate issues here, one of them i think most of us on this side would accept. the other we couldn't. and to lump them together would have tied two issues together that were unfair. the gentleman from oklahoma was extremely gracious and said
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right away, we'll them. he didn't have to do that and we appreciate that. mr. coburn: i'm happy to do that, senator schumer. let me tell you what the crux of this amendment is. when we have disasters, we have real, legitimate needs. we have families that are hurting. we have businesses that are belly-up. we have homes that are destroy destroyed. we have lives that are never going to be put back together, no matter how much money we spend. but there are people in our country who don't play by the rules, and this amendment is specifically designed to not grant any of this $60 billion to true tax cheats -- and that doesn't mean something that's under discussion or under litigation. that's ones that have already been deemed tax cheats. and the second thing is to not pay money to people who are deceased already. what did we learn from katrina? we -- we learned that nearly a
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billion dollars of katrina money went to people who owed billions and billions of dollars to the federal government. so -- and these weren't disputable facts. these were real facts. we also learned that we spent significantly, over $100 million, granting grants and money to people who were deceased. so all we're saying in this bill let's learn from our mistakes and let's not do the same thing. so this puts a prohibition on money going to people who have a legitimate adjudicated claim by the i.r.s. against their not paying taxes due to the federal government that they in fact will not participate because they didn't participate. and the second thing is if in
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fact you don't exist anymore in life, you shouldn't be collecting money off our kids to pay for something that isn't a real need. the final point of it is to really focus this on the sandy supplemental, and that's the division which we'll have a separate vote on is for funding fisheries. i have no problem with funding fisheries. i have a big problem with borrowing from my kids to fund for those very fisheries. it is about priorities. we refuse to make priorities. and now that we have a bill that we don't have to cut spending anywhere from, we're going to borrow it all, we decided we're going to add everything into it we can. i'm not saying there isn't a need in alaska or on the west coast for this. what i'm saying is there is a need for us to start making choices. and the choice has to be not whether we'll pay for it, it's whether there is a lower priority than funding the fishery. we tend to want to not make
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those choices. and i'm saying in this amendment that we ought to have to. and we'll see what the will of the senate is. i probably already know the answer to it. but the fact is, is all we're doing is stealing from our kids. all of you know, i can document over $200 billion a year in duplication, fraud and waste in the federal government. we're not offering any of that to eliminate to be able to pay for this. so if we're going to do the $150 million for fisheries, ought we not cut some spending somewhere else to pay for it? that's the whole point of this. and i ask unanimous consent that that amendment be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: and i believe i'm through, madam chairman, and i would make the following point. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: again i want to thank the gentleman from oklahoma for offering all of his
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amendments. i would like to comment on coburn 3370, division 1 on the tax cheats. i certainly want to compliment him on that amendment. every single senator wants to prevent tax cheating, tax cheaters from receiving any funding in this bill. i'm for all of these prohibitions on tax cheats. i carry a similar provision in my usual and customary commerce-justice bill. the senator from oklahoma also is very sensitive about modifying it. his bill covers tax cheats and also dead people can't get federal funds. he modified it to cover funeral expenses. but we've also been told that this, by the finance committee that this amendment is not a blue-slip issue. i support the gentleman's amendment. and if it's agreeable with the gentleman from oklahoma on this
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side, we would like to take his amendment tonight. now, on the fisheries part, we don't take the fisheries part. and i oppose the division 2, the fisheries amendment, because the -- i understand the gentleman's intention, but his point is that he tries to say that fishery disaster funding should be for communities affected primarily by stafford act requirements. the stafford act covers fema certified disasters. so in order to get help from fema, which is governed by the stafford act, it has to be certified in order -- by the president in order to get this. fisheries are different because fisheries are covered under an
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agency called noaa, the national oceans and atmospheric agency. it is under the department of commerce. if you think you've got a fisheries disaster, you take that to the secretary of commerce who has an explicit criteria in order to qualify. you just can't say, well, i don't have the fish i used to. oh, my lobster pots are a little rusty. no. you have to have real criteria that you've been hit. and, therefore, you cannot get fisheries assistance unless a fishery disaster has been declared by the secretary of commerce. fishery disasters are necessary and urgent. coastal fisheries -- our coastal communities, our fisheries are part of our identity and they are certainly part of our
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economy. they certainly are in my state and those disasters that are covered here. so that i hope that the gentleman from oklahoma's amendment is debated -- excuse me -- is defeated in this area. his other amendments i could comment upon, but i didn't know if the gentlelady from louisiana who chairs the committee on homeland security, which fema is a member, i presume she wants to comment on the gentleman's amendment. ms. landrieu: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: i would like to say a word broadly in response to senator coburn's statement and his several amendments to substantially and in other cases not so substantially change this bill. and i thank the senator from michigan for yielding just a minute. i know the senator from new york wants to respond as well. but generally i want to say i know the senator from oklahoma is very sincere. no one literally in this chamber has worked harder to try to put
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more reforms and eliminate duplication. but i want to just say one thing in response. when we have emergencies in this country like when we go to war, no one comes to the floor to debate how we're going to offset $1.4 trillion worth of expense for two wars, iraq and afghanistan. when we came to the floor a couple of years ago to vote for tax cuts, many of us claimed and said at the time there would not be enough known tkhoefrpl. we had to borrow money to do that. the other side sat quietly and didn't say a word. why is it when americans, when a building is blown up in oklahoma or when the levees break in louisiana or when the worst storm in 50 years comes we have to debate an offset? this bill is not going to be offset. it's going to pass, i hope. and i understand senator coburn's comments. i want to say when americans are hurting people can recover, and if we give them the adequate response early enough in the
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disaster. secondly, and then i'm going to sit down, the thresholds, the degree and k-rgt there are legitimate concerns but there are reforms in the underlying bill that will help do better contracting, better debris removal and better and efficient cleanup after a natural disaster. i understand we have a big budget issue but this is not the time to debate the cost of this bill. what is the time to debate is what should be in it and what shouldn't. and i think the senator from new york has more specifics about some of the recommendations but i thank the chair lady from maryland for organizing this effort tonight, and i'll submit more things for the record in the morning. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i have a bunch of things i want to say in reference to my good friend from oklahoma but i know my colleagues from oregon and michigan have a time commitment, so i'm going to just ask unanimous consent they be allowed to offer their amendment and using time on this amendment
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-- mr. coburn: i would object to that at this point. i have to be somewhere at 7:30. i came down here, but i want to make some points before i leave. i was trying to sum up -- mr. schumer: i'll go after the senator from oklahoma as well. ms. mikulski: did i inadvertently interrupt? mr. coburn: i have to leave but i have to make some points. mr. schumer: let me ask unanimous consent for five minutes the senator from michigan and oregon introduce their amendment, then the senator from oklahoma sums up and then i be given time to rebut those amendments. ms. mikulski: and me to. the presiding officer:. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. menendez: i'm not going to object but i would like to amend the gentleman's request so i would be recognized after this. the presiding officer: no problem. mr. menendez: after the senator from new york. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from oregon. a senator: i call up amendment 67 and ask it be modified with changes at the desk? the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from oregon, mr. merkley proposes amendment 3367 as modified further. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to thank very much senator blunt and senator stabenow, who have worked so hard to bring together a common vision on how we can address the terrible disasters of drought and wildfire that ravaged many parts of the country this last summer. we're no longer in the summer. we're months late. but better now than to wait a single additional day. and with that, i yield to senator stabenow from michigan. i thank her so much for working so well and hard on this. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan.
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ms. stabenow: thank you very much. i first want to thank senator merkley who has been tireless in bringing forward the issues of the farmers and ranchers in oregon and to my colleagues who are here on the floor from new york and new jersey. i had the opportunity to be in new jersey with senator menendez and to see firsthand also with senator landrieu and senator tester, and it's very, very clear that this is a horrific situation and deserves our attention and support. what we are doing with this amendment, as modified -- i want to thank senator blunt for working with us in cosponsoring the amendment stk-rbs to basically -- is to basically take what we have done and passed in the farm bill and putting it into this very, very important disaster assistance bill. in the spring we experienced late freezes that wiped out many fruit crops in a number of states, including michigan, new york and pennsylvania. in my home state we had a 98% loss of cherry crops.
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and they don't have access to any crop insurance. we're talking about those who don't have that option to be able to help mitigate their losses. in the summer we saw the worst drought since 1956. it left crops withering in the field all across our country, over 80% of the contiguous united states experienced drought conditions. 11 states still have exceptional drought conditions and 17 states with severe drought conditions. i can't imagine having a disaster assistance bill come through this senate without including help for our farmers and ranchers who have been hit so very hard this year. i urge colleagues to support our amendment and thank my colleagues very much for allowing us to offer it. mr. coburn: i'm sorry the senator from louisiana has left the floor, because if she were
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to check my voting record, i've not voted for extending the bush tax cuts because they weren't paid for. i said that on the floor. i've not voted to fund the wars in iraq and afghanistan because they weren't paid for. so when we hear blanket statements that the other side side -- quote -- "the other side does not toe the line as would be expected by the senator from louisiana" i have to object. the fact is i've been very consistent on those issues. i don't think you give a tax cut without cutting spending in the federal government. that's what the debate's all about. the reason we're here tonight and we have a $60 billion bill that's not going to be paid for except by our grandkids, with interest, which is going to become $120 billion by the time it's ever paid back, is because we don't have the courage to actually go through and make hard choices about what works and what doesn't, what's a
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priority and what is not. i don't have any illusions about my amendments passing. i'm very thankful that a couple of them have been accepted. but the real problem that america sees at the end of this year is a problem with us. is that we think we can continue to do business the way we've always done it. and you know what? we can't. we're going to pass this bill, and it's going to die because the house isn't going to take it up this year. we're going to have to come back and do it again. and hopefully we're going to do it in the best way that helps the most people in new york, new jersey and everybody else. right now the fema money is slowing. we need to increase the money. i'm all for that. we need to make sure the flood insurance money goes out right away. but we better get hold of ourselves as a senate and as a nation. we can say we've always done it this way. we can say we can spend $60 billion and not pay for t. we
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can add all sorts of things. we have a crop insurance program for apples, but we're not going not cover it. we're going to go back -- even the people who weren't covered are going to get covered even though they didn't participate under this bill. they're going to get covered. so what we're going to do is actually undermine the crop insurance program for apples. but the point is we're doing the same thing that got us into the trouble that we're in. we're at $16.4 trillion tonight in debt. when you include all the debt that the country has in terms of municipalities and states, that's how you compare apples to apples with everybody else. we're at 120% debt to g.d.p. ratio. it's killing our economy right now. multiple studies show that. it's probably hurting our g.d.p. by 1.5%. that's 1.5 million new jobs a year and we're sitting here talking about we're in a
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different time that, we don't have $16 trillion worth of debt, that we're not going to have $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see. we're totally disconnected to reality. so i'm not going to win. i understand that. i understand there's a need, and i want to supply that need, but how we do it is important for the future of this country. it's also important for our kids. and so we can rationalize and say we've always done it this way, this is the way the rules work, but there is going to be a very big price to pay, and when that price comes, those who are sitting opposing my amendments are going to see the consequences of that opposition played out in the worst possible way. the debt bomb in this country is going to explode, and we're going to be held accountable for it.
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our lineage, our reputation, our history as senators in this congress is going to come back to us. we weren't up to the task to making the hard decisions that will actually save this country, fix the problems and put us on a basis to where we can grow again and be the america that we can be. i thank the president for the time. i thank the chairwoman for her consideration. i thank senator schumer for his consideration on the amendments, and i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, and i very much appreciate my colleague from oklahoma. he has left. we do have a friendship. i do believe he is a person of integrity. his views about government and politics are quite different than mine, but he has put his money where his mouth is in a number of places when he has not paid for -- or asked to pay for things that many on the other side didn't, et cetera, so i thank him.
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i don't agree with l -- with none -- i agree maybe with one or two of his amendments. senator mikulski summed up the amendment on fisheries very, very well, and i will talk about some of the other amendments and why we object to them. it will take a few minutes, but i think it's important to set the record straight. so let me take them in numerical order. first, 3368, to clarify cost-sharing requirements for the army corps. well, mr. president, in past supplementals, we established an important precedent for local cost share on army corps projects that this amendment will strike. we have crucial projects about the army corps. as my colleague, senator gillibrand, knows in new york, my colleagues senator menendez and senator lautenberg know in new jersey, that we are naked in heavily populated areas after the storm. this storm was huge, but you have to be poolish to think there won't be another one again, and we need the army corps who is -- they are
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brilliant in many of the ways that they are able to protect our coasts. they need -- this needs to be done, and if the local cost share were to go to 35%, we don't have just one big state government. we have lots of little localities. take long beach, a city of 35,000 gone, wiped out, basically. if they had to come up with 35% of the project, it would be hopeless. now, katrina got 100%. we're not even asking for that. but the 90% that has traditionally been given to army corps projects when the damage is so large that it has realized that the locality cannot pay for it alone makes imminent sense. the village of lindenhurst, the village of massapequa, the villages on fire island all do not have the wherewithal. if we were to say and pass the senator from oklahoma's
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amendment, we get no army corps relief. and then when storms much smaller than sandy came, we would be wiped out again. so it doesn't make sense. the storm beach damage reduction project in long beach, for instance, has a local cost share of $35 million. that's more than a quarter of the entire city's annual budget. if they had to pay their share, it wouldn't get built. same thing, take a little vote -- take a little small village of asheroken which was terribly damaged. again, in the past, when there is large damage, the army corps has paid 90%, localities 10%. to change those rules now for new york after new york taxpayers, new jersey taxpayers, paid millions, hundreds of millions of dollars to projects whether they be on the mississippi or missouri river or down in the gulf at a 90%-10%
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ratio would be totally unfair. this amendment would be a crippling amendment, and i strongly urge its revokes. on fisheries, again, my colleague from maryland, our chair, our wonderful chair, new chair, off to a great start i might say, madam chair. this is your first bill, you're going like gangbusters. we didn't expect anything less. she has laid out the arguments for those fisheries. the only thing i would say about them is, hey, that's a disaster, too. as she said, this is not just you need new lobster pots. these are disasters, and traditionally we have funded disaster relief in supplemental bills, and it doesn't have to be just one area. and so i thank my colleagues particularly from maine and from alaska who put in such good work into this, and i do want to again thank senator coburn for separating the tax cheat provision. nobody who is behind in their taxes should get federal aid.
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that's a provision that i can accept and i think most of us on this side will accept. 3371, this is the coburn amendment on per-capita damage thresholds. the amendment would require fema to actually change the indicator by which fema determines a locality's eligibility for fema public assistance. it would make it much harder for states and local governments in the future to get federal aid after a disaster. it sounds benign, but this is a chokehold on fema for many localities and particularly for larger states like those that we represent. as you know, current per-capita damage thresholds are pegged to the consumer price index, and c.p.i. measures the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a specific market of basket goods. for new york, the per-capita threshold that has to be reached
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for a county to be declared a major disaster area is $1.37. my colleague's amendment would peg the per-capita threshold starting in 1986. you would have to have such enormous damage in so many localities to get money, and in effect it would double the per-damage threshold needed to be declared a disaster area. in every state, we have asked when we watch as disasters occur and we keep our fingers crossed to see that the federal government will declare that area disaster. it's based on a formula. the formula is not easy to reach. i have had countless counties disappointed and asking me why didn't we meet the threshold, but to now make the threshold almost double as hard to meet wouldn't work. i say to my good friend from
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oklahoma, and i know this may not change his view on the amendment because as i said he is a person of integrity, but for the six major disaster declarations declared in oklahoma over the last two years, the damage per person would have had to be double its current level. i imagine those in oklahoma who were impacted by severe winter storms, tornadoes and flooding wouldn't be happy to hear that it's harder now if this amendment passed to repair roads, remove debris, support emergency response efforts. so i'd say to every one of my colleagues in every state if you want to pull back on federal disaster assistance by changing an arcane formula that has real substantive damage, support this amendment. i hope we'll reject it. the next one is 3382. i urge my colleagues to vote no on this. this would put huge bureaucratic red tape between disaster victims and the federal assistance they deserve. you know, our good friend from
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louisiana coached, senator menendez, senator gillibrand, senator lautenberg and myself, on what went wrong with katrina, and one of them was that the contracting procedure becomes so arcane and so rigid and so difficult that the contracts either never happen or take much too long to do. now, to expect every contract to be competitively bid, what about emergency contracts? do you want to have a six-month bidding process when on damage you do corrections and 90 days to pick up debris, to build back a beach that might face a storm in 30 days? and second, we in new york have our own competitive bidding requirements. and those can suffice. why have two double sets of them? and sometimes the states and localities have to waive them
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when there are true emergencies. so sometimes we're putting a -- put in a catch-22 by some of our colleagues. they say you don't spend disaster relief fast enough. you stretch it out over long periods of time. and then they impose requirements that make sure we don't spend the money fast enough. it doesn't make sense. if the amendment by senator coburn passes, it will guarantee that disaster aid would be delayed for months and years, and the consequences of that, the economic costs, the danger to our coastlines, our localities, our small businesses and the human cost would be a terrible, terrible, terrible way to go. i believe this is a trojan horse that will cripple efforts to bring quick, efficient and honest disaster aid to our
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localities and urge its resistance -- urge its defeat. 3383, this strikes a.c.o. studies and authorization. now, again, we don't want the rules changed on us. sometimes we've improved the rules to make sure that we learn from mistakes of past disasters, but to just change the rules from past supplementals makes no sense. as many of us know here, the project of getting coastal protection built by the army corps can be mired in red tape and delays. every one of us has experienced this. what's taking you so long. the provision being struck by amendment 3383 is designed to accelerate critical protection projects and get rid of the red tape. i know my colleague from oklahoma believes in less bureaucracy and more efficiency. well, if this passed, we would be giving the people of statten island or of massapequa more
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bureaucracy. for a decade, for instance, the corps had delayed a protection project for the south shore of long island due to lack of funding and authorizations from congress. they studied it. they said it made sense, but they didn't get it done. had there been these seawalls being built, it is almost certain that lives would have been saved and millions of dollars in property damage avoided. so in this bill like katrina we're accelerating the ability to do that. we're accelerating it in long beach. long beach rejected in 2005 a project i helped push to build dunes to protect that flat, low-lying area with low-lying homes from storms. now. but the army corps has done the study. the army corps has said here is what's right. let's move forward. and to my friend's amendment, we
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could not even though all the work, the preliminary work has been done. so i urge a no vote on this amendment. okay. i think i have addressed the major amendments that i object to. as i said, i don't object to every one of my colleagues' amendments but i object to the major ones. and i hope we can have a bipartisan amendment here. mr. president, for 100 years, when disaster has struck, we have been one america. we have said we know any locality, even large localities like new york and new jersey and maryland won't be able to handle that disaster relief on its own, and in wisdom, we have said we are one united people, and the people of the other regions, of the 99 or 95 other states will come to the aid of this area that has been afflicted. we can't change the rules now.
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those of us in new york and new jersey say aha, some of my constituents, i'm sure some of yours, too, senator menendez, say aha, now that it's new york and new jersey, a change in the rules. not fair. we have been there. we have been there for our colleagues. whenever they have had disasters, and praise god we haven't had that many until recently, but we need to. you know what? you will need us. given all the changes in the world, there will be disasters that will strike everywhere else, and we want to be with you. we don't want to see the process so encumbered and so weighted down that that relief cannot come. and the sum total of these amendments would be to do that. i strongly urge my colleagues, hopefully in a bipartisan vote, to reject them. and i yield the floor to my colleague from new jersey.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, first of all, i want to thank the distinguished chairlady of the appropriations committee for the work that he and her staff have put together. it's really remarkable considering the time frame that they were in and, of course, former -- the late senator inouye, who, with his staff as well that the chairlady has inherited, it's just been an exceptional amount of work, along with senator landrieu. so certainly the people of the northeast thank you very, very much. i want to respond. i think senator schumer's done a good job overall of talking about our concerns about these amendments, but i want to give a little greater depth and certainly a new jersey perspective too. i do not question the motives of our distinguished colleague from oklahoma. he's been consistent in that.
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i don't question his consistency, even though i haven't checked the record, but i'll take his word that even on tax cuts and war spending, he's been consistent. but i do question the consequences of some of his amendments, consequences to the people of the northeast, consequences to the people of new jersey, consequences in the future as it relates to other disasters. and i know at one point he talked about courage in a fiscal sense. let me tell you, courage is what people in new jersey are looking at each and every day when they find their businesses closed and are trying to sum up the courage to open up again. courage is those who have lost their homes and are trying to reopen their homes which were -- could not even do it for the holidays. they were certainly not home for christmas. courage is looking at that every day and trying to figure how you
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move forward. courage is many of the small municipalities, many of lost their police and fire departments and are working with others to create public safety as they rebuild the very essence of their departments. that's courage, real courage. in the face of incredible challenges. now, two of the amendments dealing with the army corps go straight to that courage. i came to the floor over the last two weeks several times, showed whole host of visuals to our colleagues for them to understand that we are at the lowest level of protection. it's like an individual whose immune system is virtually gone. and i said then, all we need is a dniester t northeaster to comh and we will see the consequences of having no defenses. and, unfortunately, yesterday we
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suffered a northeaster. it wasn't the worst of what we could have received but for several parts of new jersey, it was certainly bad news. because those communities that are defenseless as a result of not having army corp army corpsd beaches saw it again. in seabright, maniloken and several other communities along the jersey shore, they caught the worst of it again. and all the fears and all the nightmares of what they went through under sandy were relived once again. so when you talk about changing the rules on the army corps participation in terms of what he wants as a 90-10 split, number one, that changes the rules. i went over it just to make sure i was right about this. i asked senator landrieu of louisiana, wait a minute, in katrina, wasn't there april
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90-10 split, and she said, yes. and in some cases, up to 100. well, the people of the northeast, the people of new jersey and new york deserve no less in their disaster. there are a whole host of communities, even with a 90-10 split, that are going to find it incredibly difficult when 20% or 25% of their rateable base is gone to fund the 10% that we are asking them. we believe they should have skin in the game, but even at that 10%, they're going to have enormous difficulties funding that 10% to get the lifesaving, property saving, fiscally responsible solution in having army corps engineered beaches. so 90-10 is still a challenge to a whole host of communities. go to the proposition that our colleague from oklahoma has and
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you basically nullify their ability to protect their citizens. and i always thought that is the number-one priority of any government, federal, state or local, is to protect their citizens. certainly the united states senate should be protecting its citizens, whether it's abroad or at home. and in this respect, we cannot protect our citizens along the negligent coastline if, in fact, we cannot have these engineered beaches and if, in fact, you cannot afford to have those engineered beaches. so instead, we will pay billions -- talk about being fiscally responsible -- in repetitive loss damages. and we will lose lives, as we lost in new jersey. so i want to save lives and i want to save property and i want to save the federal government from paying repetitive losses. and that's why that amendment is certainly not one that we can
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accept by any stretch of the imagination. it is unfair to the people of the northeast because it changes the rules of the game, and it is unfair in terms of our obligation to the public safety. i, for one, do not want to be casting a vote that ultimately leaves my fellow new jerseyans or fellow americans at risk when i could have saved their life. i'm certainly not going to do that and i hope this chamber's not going to do that. second, with reference to the other army corps of engineer amendment which would suggest that those projects that are already well underway to being determined and that, in fact, ouare cost-effective and can sae lives and save property and save rateables and save repetitive losses cannot be approved would be, in essence, to guarantee that at the lowest rate of our
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defenses, we will just suffer an entire winter of incredible misery. so, no, mr. president, we cannot have that amendment pass. thirdly, with reference to the question of acquisition, look, the governor of new jersey made that decision so i can't speak for him. but my understanding is he made that decision from fema approved contracts. now, if people aneeds a better process to -- now, if fema needs a better process to go ahead and negotiate and/or i bid in advance for generic contracts, so be it. but a delayed recovery is a failed recovery. and we are already in -- you know, i want my colleagues to remember that ten days after hurricane katrina, this chamber passed two separate bills amounting to $60 billion. it has been nearly two months
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since we had superstorm sandy and nothing has passed. two months. who among us would be content with the counsels of patience and delay if, in fact, we were shivering in the cold, if, in fact, our families had no home, if, in fact, they had been displaced from their schools, if, in fact, their businesses that they worked a lifetime took out debt and now are closed mare never open. who among us would happy with the counsels of patience and delay? so we cannot have a set of circumstances that creates a series of delays. now, i'm all for the good-government amendments of saying to those who are in debt to the nation that they, in fact, cannot receive any benefits or those who are deceased, of course they should
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not receive any benefits. but the rest of this is about creating delay after delay after delay that is only in the midst of a biting winter. we just had the first northeaster yesterday. we cannot ultimately accept those types of changes that put us in a process in which, in fact, we will not be able to successfully move the elements of being able to recover. now, the -- this constant reference to a great part of the money, the overwhelming of the money won't be spent until 2015. that is simply not the case. whether it be army corps of engineered projects that have already been approved and authorized that are not funded that are critical to our defenses. those are ready to go. they just need money. the flexibility that we have sought in this bill working with an incredible insight from what
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happened in hurricane katrina and what worked and what did not work. that flexibility will allow money to flow to businesses that are at the crucial point of trying to decide, can i open or not? because i need to know if the government is going to do -- what the government is going to do for me as part of my equation as to whether i open this business up or not. because low interest loans from the s.b.a., reason long-term propositions is still more debt. and many of these businesses that i have met up and down new jersey have told me, "senator, i took out money to start this business. i took a debt to start this business. i pooc out a great of the debt to the great recession. more debt doesn't necessarily mean that i will succeed. but a grant, as we authorized here, it's through cdbg block grants, can make very well the
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difference between me reopening and not, and hiring back people, and being able to -- and paying towards the greater good and state in the nation. that is what is at stake here as well. and so that money's going to throw -- flow if we do it the right way. so the suggestion that it's going to take years down the road is just simply not true. secondly, i think that we lose sight that while, yes, this is about new jersey and new york and connecticut, it's about a region. a region that employs 10% of the nation's work force and accounts for 11% of the entire nation's g.d.p. 11% of the entire nation's g.d.p. that's 12.7 million workers and
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$1.4 trillion in productivity. if you want to see that region continue to contribute to the gross domestic product growth of this country, to continue to contributed to the employment, to continue to drnt to the federal coffers, you need to help it to be able to help themselves. not to turn your back on them. and that's what's at stake here. finally, i would just say that, you know, there is a whole host of other disasters and the committee has been very, very focused on saying nothing goes in this bill that isn't disaster related, of one disaster or another. and because there have been no other disaster funding, that this has been a vehicle for whether it be wildfires or crop disaster. i -- i personally welcome that,
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because, as i have said many times, this is the united states of america. there's a reason we call it the united states of america. it's so we are all in this together. so i welcome the fact that we can help other fellow americans through this vehicle, whether it be about wildfires or crop disaster or estuaries that wered in other parts of the country at different times. so be it. because that's what being the united states of america is all about. but we need to pass this bill tomorrow. we need to reject these amendments, particularly the ones that i and senator schumer have talked about because it will fail us in our recovery, it will undermine our ability to protect our people. and, finally, i would just simple say, you know, we need to pass it so the house can consider this bill as its cl